Sinbad – The new rock and roll Panto by Peter Rowe – New Wolsey Theatre till Sat 28th Jan
Its panto time – oh yes it is – oh no it isn’t – oh yes it is! Yes folks it’s that time of year again – and amongst the myriad celebrity- led rehashing of old ideas the New Wolsey offering is usually a breath of fresh air – and this year’s rollicking romp amongst the Arabian bazaars and across the high seas really pulls out all the stops to keep the audience entertained and rocking in the aisles.
Not that there isn’t a lot of serious talent on show. Sinbad is played by Steve Rushton, one time lead singer of punk band Son of Dork, who has written music for a number of Disney movies including Hannah Montana. The Dame is played by Graham Kent, an experienced West End musical performer and TV actor, and his sidekick Tinbad is musical director of the multi award winning company who had a hit in the West End with The Play that goes Wrong.
This year director/writer Peter Rowe has decided to keep it simple with not too much of the usual rhyming explanations from the good fairy and the bad wizard. Instead we get straight into the laughter with an early appearance from Dame Donna and her sidekick Tinbad the Tailor who prove to be great double act.
In fact this year the Dame features quite heavily and seems to be the star of the show – the love story between the princess and the pauper sailor Sinbad being somewhat sidelined in favour of the comedy – not at all a bad thing.
It’s still there of course – with the Princess Pearl and her companion Jade dressing as pirates in order to sneak aboard Sinbad’s boat The Saucy Sausage on its trip to Nirvana and the love palace in order to escape the evil clutches of Sinistro – her father’s intended suitor.
But the main drive is the humour – with running gags on the name of the boat, nautical terms and food in general. Kent is an excellent Dame – with over the top costumes but just the right level of comedy timing and delivery – and Falconer makes the most of his role as the Dame’s unlikely love interest. There is plenty for kids with lots of visual gags, the appearance of a very impressive dromedary and lots of cute birdy puppets. Some of the humour is a bit rude – but will probably go over the heads of the younger members of the audience.
This being a rock and roll panto the music is important and there is an excellent choice of songs this year starting with The Boys are Back in Town and including classics such as Love Shack, SOS, The Power of Love, I Want to Break Free and Living on a Prayer that are uniformly well performed by the talented cast who swap easily between roles and instruments.
With only ten in the cast they all work hard – the pace is great and the laughter and the music just keeps coming. It’s an entertaining , light-hearted, fun evening that I would thoroughly recommend even if panto is not your favourite genre.